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Price: $40, including shipping


Approx. Dimensions: 25W X 21H

The Mustangs of Bandelier

The Story Behind the Image

By Carla Muth

As a child, I was a Girl Scout who camped with the troop in a variety of places. One was Bandelier National Monument, in the Jemez Mountains north and west of Santa Fe. We rode horses in the backcountry there, and from time to time we caught glimpses of wild mustangs in the canyon. I remember those days very fondly, the camping, riding and company of friends. But I remember too the thrilling little surge of fear that came when we saw the mustangs running wild—the noise, the dust, the sheer power of them. And also the romance, for these horses were entwined in the fabric of the Wild West.

When I decided to draw horses, the mustangs of Bandelier were the ones foremost in my memory. I quickly discovered that the artistic challenge was not so much the horses as creating the storm of dust that they were running through. The poster displayed here is the result of my effort. It is a colored pencil rendering on 300-pound cold-press paper. The marbled look was achieved by applying seven layers of colored pencil, which gives a luminous glow to the horses as well as the dust.

The image was juried into the Colored Pencil Society of America's National Show, held at Lewis and Clark University in Portland, Oregon. There were images from all over the world in the competition. It was an honor to be included in this prestigious exhibition.

But the mustangs had a sadder ending to their story. Non-native to the Bandelier area, the mustangs were destructive to the natural environment there. So they were rounded up and relocated into a prisoner-training program at the Penitentiary of New Mexico. Unique in concept, the program redirected the violent tendencies of inmates into the tough but constructive job of training the horses for use at farms, ranches and stables. The program functioned for several years and was considered a success. But it did not pay for itself, and eventually the state Legislature cut its funding. The remaining horses were then sold.

Though they have passed from the landscape of New Mexico, the wild mustangs of Bandelier will always be thundering through my mind and heart-and on this poster. I hope you enjoy these powerful, wild beings as much as I enjoyed creating the artwork.

Original Pastels by Carla Muth

Carla Muth Biography

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